Monday, January 18, 2010

Get creative through self-acknowledgment

Self-acknowledgment is an opportunity to get creative.

I’ve been practicing yoga for over seven years. I actually started doing yoga out of curiosity, and then realized a few years ago, that yoga helps me with a hip injury I developed in 2006. One morning, I woke up and realized that I had lost part of the range of motion in my left hip. (Some of you may remember the story from a “Gluten-free Thanksgiving”). At first, I rushed to see a wide range of doctors and after being sent for x-rays, MRIs, and physical therapy appointments, I still did not receive a diagnosis. But I continued doing yoga and slowly realized that it was helping to alleviate the pain and stiffness in my joints.

I did receive a diagnosis for my hip problem two years later, but I was already hooked on yoga by that time. I have osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease that can be halted through exercise. Besides helping my hip, I also found that yoga is great exercise for a diabetic, as my blood sugars don’t fluctuate drastically while practicing, and I still get the benefits of exercise that we all, and especially diabetics, need to keep blood sugars under control.

A few months ago, I tried a new Sara Ivanhoe yoga video routine at home and was in awe by her last statement. After a grueling, yet uplifting, thirty minutes of contorting my body, she told me, the viewer, to sit cross-legged, take a few deep breaths, and then hold my hands in a prayer pose in front of my heart. So far this may seem typical to you, and it is, but the last statement of the routine really stood out for me.

“Say thank you,” she said, “for taking the time to do this practice and doing something good for yourself today. Namaste.”

“Huh…” I was surprised, “I never thought of thanking myself for doing thirty minutes of yoga.” The thoughts continued, “Okay, Sara Ivanhoe is brilliant. She’s right. I am doing this for me, for my health. I’m helping my hip, and I actually enjoy it.”

And I said, “Thank you.”

Prior to Sara Ivanhoe’s statement, I was simply doing the yoga – to do it. I knew the benefits of exercise, and I knew it was helping, but I hadn’t thought of thanking myself for actually doing it.

I’ve thought of being grateful for a good meal, for family and friends, for a gift, for my paycheck, and I’ve even learned to be grateful for my body once I realized that I wouldn’t be alive without it. I’ve thought of being grateful for the sunrise, a beautiful day, and sunsets as well. I’ve thought of being grateful when someone gives me a lift or helps me carry a heavy bag. Sometimes, I’ve thought of being grateful for God/The Universe/Spirit or however you may call it.

I knew how to be grateful of others, but now I was learning to be really grateful to myself.

This inspired me to get creative with self-gratitude with you. What are all the ways that we can be grateful to ourselves? I am going to brainstorm; feel free to join in!

Some thank-yous can draw upon the mundane: I am grateful that I brush my teeth, take a shower, and clip my nails. I bet you’re grateful for that, too. I am grateful that I have a laundry machine and that I actually wash my clothes despite a preference for sitting on the couch and relaxing.

I am grateful for getting rid of clutter, and knowing how to throw things away or donate them when I don’t need them. I am also thankful for knowing how to smile when I buy or receive something new.

Self-gratitude can also draw upon the sublime: I am thankful that I know how to have fun, laugh, be sad, get angry, and cry. I am thankful that I can dream and imagine. I am thankful that I see colors, shades, and hues, and even know how to match them most of the time. I am grateful that I know what I like and what I don’t like. I am also thankful that I know what I’m good at and when I need help. And I’m grateful that I remember to say thank you when someone else does something kind.

I am grateful for knowing how to say, “No” when someone is invading my boundaries. I am thankful that I know how to say, “Yes” when opportunities pass my way. I am thankful that I know how to enjoy a homemade meal. And I’m grateful that I know better than to make the meal myself when I am in a bad mood.

And I am thankful that I take the time to exercise, and now I’m thankful that I notice it too.

The opportunities for getting creative with self-acknowledgement are endless. Try it and be thankful you did!

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